Mayor, JMU President comment on Village Lane riot

Alex Sirney -- April 11th, 2010

Mayor Kai Degner and JMU President Linwood Rose have provided initial responses to Saturday’s riot in Village Lane in which police used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse large crowds.

In an email message sent Sunday afternoon from the JMU Police & Public Safety in response to the confrontation between block-party goers at “Springfest” and the Harrisonburg Police Department, Rose said:

Dear Students:

Let me first acknowledge that many of you did not attend springfest on Saturday. To those of you who were involved, your collective behavior was an embarrassment to your university and a discredit to our reputation. No one is opposed to some fun on a beautiful spring weekend, but public drunkenness, destruction of property, and threats to personal safety are unacceptable outcomes. Yesterday’s events reflect poorly on your character and were demonstrable evidence of less than sound judgment.

As a university community, we care about our neighbors. Unfortunately, the events of this weekend do not demonstrate that concern.

To mitigate the negative consequences of these types of situations in the future, we will be conferring with students, property owners, law enforcement, including the Virginia State Police, government officials and others.

Linwood H. Rose
President

In an email message sent Sunday morning to hburgnews, Degner said:

The incident yesterday at the Springfest between partygoers and police is unfortunate and disappointing. There is simply no doubt that enough of this crowd did, indeed, get out of hand and create an unsafe situation – indeed injuries, property damage, and dumpster fires – even before police arrived. Left alone, this behavior could have easily continued and escalated. I commend officers for exercising their responsibility to disperse the crowd to restore a safe environment. That said, the videos of multiple tear gas canisters landing amongst the students after they already began fleeing the scene raise concern.

Preventable measures must be taken to keep events, especially planned and advertised open and unmonitored drinking parties, to grow to such a large crowd in a small residential area. This is the second time in a decade this has occurred. With foresight and planning, it should be the last.

I’m collecting all the information I can, and I have asked for a report at Tuesday evening’s council meeting so that we can understand the facts and begin exploring where to improve our policies. As this event is reviewed, I call on all community leaders, including student leaders, to be responsible for their constructive participation in the discussion about how to move forward.


Mayor Kai Degner
City of Harrisonburg, Virginia

We will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

[UPDATE: Added Linwood Rose’s comments.]

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65 Responses to “Mayor, JMU President comment on Village Lane riot”

  1. Deb SF says:

    From one of the commenters, #64, “MobileMed” on the DNR site- some new info, taken with a grain of salt:

    Everyone needs to be aware of a few things before they make any judgments about what happened. PRIOR to any police intervention, there were people being injured, property being damaged, fights breaking out, etc… Two people from this event had to be flown to UVA by helicopter due to severe life-threatening injuries. Scores of people had to be taken to the local hospital after either becoming injured or so intoxicated they needed medical intervention.

    The problem developed when police/fire/rescue were unable to gain access to the area to remove injured people to the hospital or prevent further property damage and fights. Party goers were intentionally preventing Police and EMS from accessing the area. Even when rescue personnel were able to gain access to the injured who had called 911, they were unable to remove the patient from the situation and were heckled/threatened while treating the patients. At that point something had to be done because it became a public safety issue. I was there. It was clear to anyone who was sober enough to remember their name that the police were instructing everyone who did not live there to leave. For a long period of time they attempted to get people to leave the area. Anyone left when they had to resort to stronger methods were willfully remaining in the area against police instruction. I have no sympathy for them. I hope that HPD will use all of the video / pictures taken during the event to find as many of the people who refused to obey as possible and fine them to help cover the costs of all the public service agencies who spent all day / night trying to help those willing to accept it. I also hope they will use the same to find those who damaged property and prosecute them, forcing them to repay the property owners.

    On another note….at what point did the OBJECT of parties become getting so intoxicated that you cannot control yourself, cannot care for yourself and cannot care for your friends? That used to be an occasional side effect when someone overindulged. Anymore it seems to be the entire purpose of the event.

    April 11, 2010 12:13 PM
    MobileMed

  2. Actually, Deb, I posted a video of an HPD cop from yesterday’s orgy of misbehavior by JMU students, telling the videographer that ambulances weren’t coming in until such time as the crowd was controlled.

    Degner’s words are the ones that should be taken with a grain of salt. The words of a community organizer with absolutely no training in law enforcement, let alone riot control, are merely words without knowledge to back them…just like our community organizing president.

  3. Scott Rogers says:

    DebSF,

    Thanks for sifting through the DNR comments and bringing an interesting one to light. :) I can do without reading most of them, and often thus skip over them entirely.

    Some very interesting perspectives offered by MobileMed above.

  4. citydweller says:

    just curious as to why mayor degner always seems to undermine the police in his statements regarding jmu/hpd incidents. yes he complimented the police, but then took a swipe at them by saying he was concerned about video showing tear gas being thrown into a crowd of people apparently leaving. i can’t recall the last incident in which he made a statement and questioned the actions of the police department (publicly) but it was not that long ago. i’m a bit concerned that he again raises an issue with the police department in a public statement. if he has an issue with the way they handled this situation, he should address it with the police chief face to face-not undermine them.

  5. Deb SF says:

    Also interesting… numerous comments on the WHSV site refer to a police dog being killed. According to a number of folks, a student shattered a 40 oz. beer bottle on the dog’s head.

  6. Emmy says:

    If that turns out to be true, I hope they find the student who did that or that they have already arrested him/her.

  7. Alex Sirney says:

    Lt. Kurt Boshart has confirmed that the trouble EMS and police personnel had accessing the area was a contributing factor to the dispersal.

    He also denied that any police dogs were killed, saying that is was only a rumor.

  8. David Miller says:

    Citydweller (No anonymous comments?). I disagree, I think that Mayor Degner made a legitimate response to this occurrence. That being; how do we keep this from happening again? Do you disagree with that approach? Out of 206, Degner used 22 words to address his constituents concerns that the police would be responsible if any misconduct (video taped) were to surface. Seems sound all around to me.

  9. citydweller says:

    re dave: i agree with most of his response. i just had an issue with the way he worded his remarks regarding the tear gas. to me it seemed like he undermined the police. perhaps he could have worded it something like, “to those who are concerned about excess actions being taken by the police. if documented evidence (video) can be found proving the actions of the police were excessive and unwarranted then appropriate disciplinary actions will be taken”. thereby addressing his constituents concerns without undermining the police publicly. thats all. yes i do agree with his question about how to keep this from happening again.

  10. No K9 was either killed or seriously injured.

    @Miller, we keep this from happening again by requiring permits for large, open air crowds not associated with sporting events. We make JMU financially responsible for all law enforcement costs relating to quelling any such disturbances, and declare any such, non-permitted gatherings to be a public emergency and detain and arrest all participants.

  11. David Miller says:

    Gotcha, I just didn’t read it the same way that you had and was surprised when I read your take on his comments. I read the other thread on Hburg prior and had seen the comments from students claiming injustice. I assumed they were the audience he was addressing with that particular section. Hoping to allay their fears, letting them know that their concerns would be investigated. This seemed important to me after reading the allegations. Your wording was to that point too. I just didn’t see an undermining, that’s all.

    True point being, I hope that Council and HPD can find a way to ensure this never escalates again.

  12. Callie says:

    @Briggman This was not a JMU sponsored event, so why should the university be held financially responsible? This was a student organized event held off campus (obviously). the University does what it can (I think) to encourage students to party safely ie encouraging students not to allow strangers to crash their events etc. It is the responsibility of the university to educate and prepare students to become functioning members of society NOT to babysit them. These party-goers may not have all been over 21 but most college students by this time of year are at least 18 making them adults responsible for their actions.

  13. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    So were the injured people they were trying to help among the group they fired tear gas at? That part of the story seems a little hazy.

    Undoubtedly this was an unruly mob, and if I lived in that neighborhood I would have welcomed the police presence with open arms. But, could this have been handled in such a way as to minimize injuries and deal with those who were breaking the law on a more individual basis?

    I’ll be interested to see if the police respond with similar force should a minority of participants at other gatherings turn disruptive or incite violence (such as the upcoming Tea Party rally this week).

  14. Fair enough, Callie, but why should the taxpayers of Harrisonburg have to foot the bill for these types of issues caused primarily by JMU students, or “guests” who have found out this type of thing was going to occur.

    @Jeremy, Tea Partiers are amongst the best-behaved demonstrators any law enforcement agency has ever seen…and most people know that many of them will be carrying their own weapons, including myself, to insure their own protection.

  15. Deb SF says:

    This one is the best close-video I’ve seen of students throwing thing they can find at the cops, plus a streaker, people trying to take down light posts… lots of language you might find offensive.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJJNTLwGLFo&feature=youtu.be&a

  16. Deb’s video totally demonstrate Kai has his head somewhere other than the facts..her video demonstrates that the police were getting repeatedly pelted with bottles and the police stood there patiently, without any retaliation.

  17. Jeremy Hawkins says:

    I’m amazed and saddened to see that the Wikipedia listing for James Madison University has already been updated to include a detailed account of the riot.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Madison_University

  18. Alex Sirney says:

    I’ve updated the post to include Linwood Rose’s email addressing JMU students.

  19. Linwood Rose Wrote:

    “To mitigate the negative consequences of these types of situations in the future, we will be conferring with students, property owners, law enforcement, including the Virginia State Police, government officials and others.”

    Didn’t JMU do this the last time this BS happened?

  20. Emmy says:

    What would you like him to do Dave?

  21. Gene Hart says:

    We have now had two of these incidents in 10 years. I don’t remember UVA, Va Tech, GMU, or William & Mary having any at all (though I was at the last official Easters at UVA in 1981 and can tell you it might have been heading in this direction). So, the question for our local leaders at all levels is: what is it about JMU and H’burg that is causing the problems? Is it a push of all parties off-campus? Is it past development choices that have led to large, essentially-contiguous student housing areas? Do law enforcement agencies in other college towns view and apply enforcement differently than we do? Is it just simply geography (the Village Lane area would seem very problematic for dispersing a crowd since there is really only one vehicle way in and there are barriers to persons leaving if “pushed” by advancing law enforcement; compacting an already unruly crowd may not be the best tactic to use)? Should student government leaders, city council members and JMU administrative leaders be on-site with the chief of police and his command team for known big event parties? Yeah, I admit that last one is quite leading.

    I hope that local leaders at all levels will consult their counterparts at our other state schools. Our city council should find out how elected leaders in Blacksburg have coped with these issues. JMU’s student government should see what role the student leaders in Williamsburg take on during big party events. HPD should ask the UVA/Charlottesville police departments to review local civil disturbance response plans to see if they have some ideas on how we can prevent future incidents and respond better if they occur.

    The only thing more embarrassing than having this happen again will be if everyone just points fingers at their preferred villian and nothing is done (yet again) to change how things are done in the greater Harrisonburg/JMU community.

  22. Brad says:

    Too bad the mayor is questioning his own police department instead of waiting for the report he’s expecting on Tuesday. Not a smart move.

  23. Lowell Fulk says:

    Too bad Brad, that you’re trying to spin a reasonable statement against a decent man.

  24. Lowell Fulk says:

    Well stated Gene. I would also suggest that phone calls be made to the governmental entities of Richmond, Martinsville, and Bristol to ask how each of these localities plan for and deal with a much greater influx of what could be a very volatile crowd descending upon them twice a year for NASCAR races.
    This event could be a boon to city businesses.

  25. MB Green says:

    I’ve spent a positively silly amount of time today watching YouTube videos of the riot. I support the actions of the Harrisonburg PD 100%. I hope that the rioters (as many as can be identified) are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

    They did’t know police were going to use tear gas? There’s video of the students watching police put on gas masks, and you can hear them saying, “They’re getting ready to use tear gas.” Instead of leaving the area like any sane human being, they started chanting, “F**k the Police” and throwing beer bottles at the police.

    JMU needs to step up and help pay for the property damage.

  26. Lowell Fulk says:

    Okay, that’s dealing with yesterday which of course needs to be done, and will be… How do we deal with tomorrow?

  27. Emmy says:

    “and most people know that many of them will be carrying their own weapons, including myself, to insure their own protection.”

    Protection from what?

  28. Deb SF says:

    Really nice post, Gene. Interesting point that you, Joe and others have been making about how development choices have implications far beyond aesthetics and green, sustainable neighborhoods.

    It’s been barely 24 hours since the event. It’s important to spend the time to find out what exactly happened and when. Like MB Green, I’ve watched a ton of YouTube clips trying to sort out the claims of some of the students from the stories of the HPD, medical first responders, and assorted other observers. The impulse of the student participants to film and post their experiences is providing evidence that contrasts markedly with some of the stories they’re telling.

    The HPD will hold a briefing tomorrow, there will be a presentation to CC on Tuesday, and more will be heard from JMU.

    Side note: I thought Dr. Rose’s message to students hit exactly the right note. Kudos.

  29. Brooke says:

    JMU shouldn’t have to foot the bill for what students did off campus at a non university event. Most likely they’re all at least 18, and adults who make their own decisions. Honestly, I think the students themselves ought to cough up the cash if the money needs to be repaid. Barring that, they can always go after Mommy and Daddy, because honestly, that’s who dropped the ball here, not the University.

  30. Lowell Fulk says:

    Emmy,
    Protection from “Gubmint” and “Socialists” and “Communists” and “Gubmint”. Oh yes, and the police represent “Gubmint”.
    Glenn Beck would be so proud of these intrepid young men who stood up against “Gubmint” efforts at suppressing their freedom to be assholes by throwing beer bottles at the police.

    Gee, imagine if ten percent of this crowd had concealed handguns. That thought makes me sleep better at night.
    (disclaimer: for those who don’t know, I was being sarcastic)

    I greatly appreciate the bravery and dedication of the folks in public safety who sought to bring this situation to a positive conclusion. We must all plan better to avoid such situations in the future…

  31. Brad says:

    Lowell – I don’t question whether the mayor is a decent man. I just found it an odd statement.

  32. Lowell Fulk says:

    Brad, everything seems odd right now. We’re all trying to figure this thing out…

    My daughter (high school junior) and I had dinner together at the new salad place on Port Road Friday evening and I mentioned that there seemed to be a whole lot of activity in the area.

    My daughter informed me that there was about to be a big JMU event over the weekend. She also pointed out that it looked like some folks were getting a head start celebrating…

    I mentioned to her this evening (Sunday) that if we had stuck around, we could have been part of history. She wasn’t amused…

    What would you have the Mayor say? I sure wouldn’t know how to make a statement which was acceptable to everyone.

    This was a screwed up situation at the beginning…

  33. mtnsailor says:

    HBurg residents know JMU partys start on Thursdays; Wiki info:
    “Alcohol use on and around campus is prevalent, and The Princeton Review ranked JMU 18th for the most beer usage on campus.[18] Playboy recently ranked JMU as the 22nd Best Party School in the nation. These rankings take into consideration the surrounding area’s activities, academics, as well as the social scene on campus.”[26]
    There’s been 2 Large riots since 2000; yet, there’s been dozens of too large blocks partys that had control problems, “free” beer for about anyone, underage consumption, very questionable compliance with Va. ABC rules for kegs, etc. list of problems that easily could have flared into such an embarassing riot. JMU officials say its out of their hands; its up to the property owners, renters and HPD.
    WHAT should HBurg City Council do? Until there’s a full plan with all the OKs and Enforcement, there’s *justification for Council, with cooperation of Planning Comm., HPD and City Attorney, to implement an EMERGENCY Assembly Permit for non-sports gatherings of over 200 (or what number?) people on property not owned by City, JMU, EMU or a registered church. Such a Permit must pass Constitutional and legal requirements and focus on PREVENTION, versus the too REACTIVE systems/ controls now. Its not rocket science to spell out and require practical controls, ID checks, rest-rooms, etc. for any sizable event where beer/ alcohol is served/ sold. It would be simple and clear to check and shut-down any gathering having alcohol, more than the threshold attendance, and NO Permit. Yes, all involved will be seeking ways to PREVENT another JMU riot; but, a plan will take over 6 months; so lets push for some-type of PERMIT within 2-3 weeks so that such lose-lose-lose scenario(s) do NOT repeat!

  34. Angela says:

    As a current student at JMU and as one who participated in Saturday’s “festivities” in a smart manner, I can certainly tell you that the majority of students at JMU are ashamed of how things ended. There is a fundraiser group set up already to help pay for the clean up and damages that occurred. The University and the HPD recognize that the start of the trouble lands mostly on those who came as visitors, there were students from all virginia state schools as well as some from as far as Florida, townies were present as well. Regardless, it’s a shame this once peaceful event has come to something of this caliber.

    If you watch the countless videos that have made it on the internet, it is obvious that the majority of people there were standing aside peacefully while there were a certain few belligerent neanderthals, mostly male, who were acting out. I feel the use of tear gas was unnecessary and that it only heightened the sense of panic and chaos. I do realize the task these officers had at hand was a great one, but if it is their intent to ‘keep the peace’, perhaps they shouldn’t have riled everyone up prior to the attempt to settle the scene.

  35. MB Green says:

    I didn’t say JMU should HAVE to pay for it. I said that they SHOULD. JMU is being judged for this incident. I know of at least one high school senior whose parents are now saying she will not be going to JMU in the fall. This is a PR nightmare for JMU. The animosity between the “townies” and the university is at a boiling point. It would go a long way toward creating a little goodwill between JMU and the community if the university stepped up and said, “It was our students who did this. We’re going to help.”

  36. Resident says:

    JMU has had a national reputation as a party school for years, and it seems to be growing. Maybe they should raise admission standards a little? Find ways to recognize academic excellence more? Offer more on-campus housing instead of jobbing it all out to poorly maintained apartment complexes?

  37. Brooke says:

    You said “JMU needs to step up and help pay for the property damage.”

    “Needs” is not the same as “should.”

    I fully agree that might be a nice goodwill gesture, BUT, at the same time, that could create a situation where it looks like JMU is admitting blame for what happened. There may also be State stipulations, especially concerning liability coverage, that could possibly prevent them from being able to pay out money for what happened, for that same reason.

    In my mind, without getting into some weird liability nightmare, I think the best thing the University can do to prove their serious is place serious sanctions on any students found responsible. They should be suspended for a semester, at the least, in my mind. Harsh, yes, but this was serious, and serious consequences need to be handed down. A simply “I’m really, really disappointed in you” is great, but does not go far enough.

  38. Warren Anthony Picciolo says:

    I have reviewed the you tube postings in preparation for possibly having to defend some of the individuals involved. What becomes readily apparent is the situation was completely out of control PRIOR to intervention by the police.

    There is absolutely no excuse for throwing bottles or containers full of liquids at other individuals. It is a miracle no one was killed by one of these objects. As I understand it, there were several injuries severe enough to require Pegasus evacuation to UVA.

    It appears the police were forced to take control of the situation for the safety of the partygoers themselves. If there were severely injured people that need assistance, what were they to do? The chaos and violence appeared to have been building. Were they to wait until buildings were on fire? Until there were deaths?

    What is also clear is that this wasnt an expression of the frustration of the students towards HPD, a frustration which I can sometimes empathize with. This was simply mindless, undirected violence for the sport of it. Many of the videos show the crowd laughing and having a good time while this mess unfolded.

    As a JMU grad (’85) I am embarassed and sickened by this scene. When I went to school here I dont remember relations between the city and the university ever being this poor. Most of my classmates were from middle- class families who found a good, inexpensive education and could not AFFORD this sort of nonsense in their lives. Now it increasingly appears the JMU is populated by wealthy, priviledged kids who (along with their parents) think they are above the rule of normalcy that the rest of us must abide by. They think mommy and daddy will rescue them with their power and money from the consequences of their actions, and too often they are right in that assumption.

    I will take the opportunity to remind everyone that the Shay Nicholson shooting ocurred as a direct result of one of these “privledged class” of students holding a party at Hunter’s Ridge where two sets of gangs, both from out of this area, were given the word to attend. That student decided he liked the “gangsta life”, and the result was the death of a young man in OUR community. Yet, as far as I am aware, he escaped without consequence either criminally or through JMU. Why would not he and others like him not think they can do as they please?

    It is time for both sides to re-assess how they relate to each other. To the students: dont treat every HPD cop as your enemy, and somehow a “lesser” human being than you because of where you are from or how much your father makes. Almost all of them are dedicated under-paid public servants who make sure YOU are safe so you can concentrate on what you are here for: and education. To the HPD dont treat every kid who stumbles on the sidewalk, gets a little loud, or decides to sleep in his car instead of driving drunk as a reason to make an arrest. (Or for that matter, charge them with a felony for hijinks with snowballs) Cut them a break now and then and show them that every contact with the police doesnt have to be a negative one. Do your job, ( and we all certainly want you to) but do it in a discreet and professional manner that will only enhance your authority with the student population and not detract from it.

    Maybe this is a moment where things CAN change. They better, or I fear for the consquences to the community and the university.

  39. What kind of brain-numb student would stick around a block party where people were being injured in fights, dumpsters set on fire, and bottles thrown at riot police? That was a seriously drunken stupid and dangerous crowd. Blue means run son!

    As someone whom has been tear-gassed at a demonstration I can say it sucks. I would not want to be tear-gassed while I fought for my right to drink beer in a town-house parking lot.

    That was a mean crowd.

  40. Kaitlin Ilnitzki says:

    Excellently said Mr. Picciolo. And as a current JMU Graduate student, I am upset and shocked at the comments in the federalist (the link is located somewhere on this long discussion board). The police are not the enemy… Lack of common sense seems to be the enemy.

    Also thank you for the ad in the Rocktown Rollers program Mr. Picciolo! p.s. we won

  41. Leo says:

    “What is also clear is that this wasnt an expression of the frustration of the students towards HPD, a frustration which I can sometimes empathize with. This was simply mindless, undirected violence for the sport of it. Many of the videos show the crowd laughing and having a good time while this mess unfolded. ”
    hmm..”mindless, undirected violence” just happens to be a perfect description of the daily and perpetual brutality we all endure at the hands of the economy, debt slavery, precarious temp work regardless of how much money we waste on “education”, and unemployment.

  42. seth says:

    they’re saying you’re a superstar!

  43. Renee says:

    Some students started a facebook group that is selling t-shirts that say “JMU – It’s a R10T”. That may seem like a ‘jerky’ thing to do (commemorating the ‘riot’), except that they’re donating the proceeds to the landlords to help pay for the damage! Nice.

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=108209632550797&ref=nf

  44. Brooke says:

    Love it!

  45. linz says:

    Call me crotchety, but I’d also like to see the massive amount of littering addressed; something party-goers could have labored to clean up, themselves, rather than just raising money to cover clean-up as is mentioned on the t-shirt page. Maybe some did help… I don’t know. If so, kudos. Is there always that much littering at Springfest? If yes, who has cleaned it up, or paid to have it cleaned up in past years? Ironic that it was the same day as Blacks Run Cleanup Day. :-/

  46. linz says:

    Another facebook group has sprung up: Dukes Helping Harrisonburg. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=110660788964923&ref=nf#!/group.php?v=info&ref=nf&gid=110660788964923 An interesting discussion re Moving Forward has started and it looks like the group has been in touch with Mayor Degner for ideas: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=110660788964923&topic=31

  47. Andy says:

    @citydweller: Kai’s remark struck a chord with me at first, too. Although I don’t think he said anything inaccurate or inappropriate, I think that your wording would have been much more appropriate for public release. What made the comment stick out was its specificity. That part of his email did not agree (in terms of depth of detail) with the rest of his email, so it became the focus of that paragraph. Basically the first paragraph could be summarized as follows: “The students got out of hand, the police did a good job dispersing the crowd, and I was really concerned about this one specific action taken by police.” If you ask me, I think it was simply an unintentional lack of agreement within the paragraph that cause the confusion as opposed to Kai intentionally undermining HPD officers at the scene.

    @Briggman:

    1- JMU should not be held financially responsible for law enforcement costs simply because they had nothing to do with the event. It was arranged by students, took place off-campus, and was not sanctioned or supported in any way by the university. JMU is (generally speaking) a great benefit to Harrisonburg and the surrounding area. While you’re trying to send JMU a bill for teargas canisters, send them a thank you letter for thousands of jobs, millions in tax revenue, and an immeasurable amount of cultural enrichment.

    2- In my opinion, Harrisonburg shouldn’t require permits for large, open-air gatherings at all. If such a permit carried with it special requirements, fees, or restrictions, they would almost certainly be tailored to prevent JMU students from gathering in large groups. That’s unfair to the students who drank responsibly, cooperated with police, and generally enjoyed the block party in a harmless way. Also, you can’t detain and arrest people who are assembling peaceably (at least not if you value the Constitution). Generally speaking, JMU students are as peaceful or more peaceful in their demonstrations than Tea Party demonstrators, despite the fact that most Tea Party demonstrations in Harrisonburg are so tiny that it would be almost impossible for a mob mentality to develop (I guess more people want to be associated with beer and warm weather than rampant misspellings and inane ideas). We would have better success attempting to change the culture of those parties than we would by attempting to prevent them.

    Personally, I was amazed at the restraint on display by the HPD officers. Even as they were being bombarded with glass bottles, they continued to attempt to break up the gathering in a peaceful way. If it were me in HPD uniform on Saturday I doubt I could have restrained myself from bouncing a rubber bullet off the skull of any kid who threw a glass bottle at me. HPD should be commended based on the videos I’ve seen and the accounts I’ve heard of the situation.

  48. Leo says:

    “Some students started a facebook group that is selling t-shirts that say “JMU – It’s a R10T”. That may seem like a ‘jerky’ thing to do (commemorating the ‘riot’), except that they’re donating the proceeds to the landlords to help pay for the damage! Nice.”
    yes donating money to leech like property owners in order to pay for the damage caused by people defending themselves from the mercenary hirelings of the very same property owners is very “nice”.
    public space belongs to the people and if they want to use it to socialize, discuss politics, fight, drink or listen to music is up to them, furthermore if they are attacked by violent criminals while using said public space, they have a right to self-defense its as simple as that.

  49. Leo,

    Are you Rocktown Rebel who somehow thinks this was all oppressed workers rising up against evil capitalists? From all I have seen and heard, windows were being smashed by thrown bottles prior to the appearance of the police, and a lot of the partiers were hanging out on private property, not just in “public space.”

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